As Knowledge Engineers who work with people who are aiming for certification we often find people asking how to best do exams. This is really interesting! As established professionals in a field, it can be years since people have done an exam, so sometimes the exam can seem daunting and scary. So, we put our heads together and came up with this list of our top 10 Exam Tips:
- PRACTICE – get your hands on as many papers or example questions as you can…practicing exams will help you know the variety of question styles, understand how to structure your timing within the exam, will allow you to relax into the exam more easily on the day and will exercise your knowledge. Try and do as many exams, under exam conditions (timing, closed book, quiet room) as you can.
- Read the entire paper first – so you know what is coming and you can see if one question helps you answer another question. This can also be called “Touring” the paper first before answering the questions. This allows you to minimise surprises and also allows your mind to be thinking of other questions unconsciously while you are working on a specific question.
- Read the question carefully – make sure your REALLY know what the question is asking – paraphrase to make sure you understand, what is it saying (i.e. looking for key words).
- For long questions (you know – the ones with half a page of text!!); read the last line first so you know what you are looking for when you read the rest of the information
- Pick the low hanging fruit – quick win questions answered first – if you know it – answer it!
- If you don’t know the answer – move on….come back to it at the end – you will have time to really think about the hard ones then. Some papers have all questions worth the same, others have weighted questions – so be careful about how you spend your time.
- Use a process of elimination – some answer options are obviously wrong so cross them off. Usually one of the answers is really wrong, another is pretty wrong, one could be maybe right and one is right. Getting rid of the obviously wrong answers to help you focus your thinking on the one or two answers left (this works multiple choice only).
- At the end make sure all the questions have been answered….you may just jag it! (once again – multiple choice). If you don’t write anything down then you have no chance of getting it right, so always put something down!
- Wear your subject matter hat – leave your ‘reality’ at the door, don’t argue the questions – answer from how the text books/syllabus would answer. Remember the exam writers have not had your experience – they have only had theirs, and the syllabus or course content is the “common language” you all speak. Don’t try to convert to the real word – use the subject appropriate language, terms, techniques and thought processes.
- see point 1 – Practice, practice, practice.
These have stood me in good stead, so hopefully they will work for you. If you have any other suggestions – please let me know!
These suggestions came from Brian Osman, Shane Hastie and Sharon Robson
Posted by Sharon Robson